Now Ben-Hadad the king of Aram rallied his whole army; with him were thirty-two kings, besides horses and chariots. Then he marched on Shomron and laid siege to it.
He sent messengers inside the city to Ach'av king of Isra'el
to say to him, "Here is the message from Ben-Hadad: 'Your silver and gold are mine, also your wives and your best children are mine.'"
The king of Isra'el answered, "Just as you say, my lord, king; I am yours, along with everything I own."
The messengers returned and said, "Here is Ben-Hadad's response: 'I sent you a message to hand over your silver, gold, wives and children to me.
But I am going to send my servants to you tomorrow around this time; they will ransack your house and the houses of your servants; and whatever they see that they like they will seize and remove.'"
Then the king of Isra'el summoned all the leaders of the land and said, "Please take notice! Do you see how this man is trying to make trouble? First he demanded my wives, children, silver and gold; and I denied him nothing."
All the leaders and all the people said to him, "Don't listen, and don't agree."
So he said to Ben-Hadad's messengers, "Tell my lord the king, 'I will do all that you asked of me the first time, but this I cannot do." The messengers left and brought word back to him.
Ben-Hadad then sent this message to him: "May the gods do terrible things to me and worse ones as well if there's enough dust in Shomron to give each of my followers a handful!"
The king of Isra'el answered, "Tell him: 'He who is putting on his armor shouldn't boast as if he were taking it off!'"
It happened that Ben-Hadad received this message when he was drinking, he and his kings, in the field-barracks. He ordered his servants: "Take up your battle positions!" So they got ready to attack the city.
At that moment a prophet approached Ach'av king of Isra'el and said, "Here is what ADONAI says: 'Have you seen this vast army? I am going to give you victory over them today. Then you will know that I am ADONAI!'"
Ach'av asked, "Who will defeat them?" He answered, "This is what ADONAI says: 'The young men who serve the district governors.'" He asked, "Who will start the fighting?" and he answered, "You will."
He counted the district governors' young men; there were 232. After that, he counted all the people, all the people of Isra'el; there were 7,000.
They set out at noon. Ben-Hadad was drinking himself senseless in the field-barracks, he and the kings, the thirty-two kings who were his allies.
The district governors' men went out first. Ben-Hadad sent for information, and they reported, "Men have come out from Shomron."
He said, "Whether they have come out for peace or for war, take them alive."
So the district governors' men left the city, followed by the army;
and each one killed his man. Aram fled, and Isra'el pursued them. Ben-Hadad king of Aram escaped on horseback with some of the cavalry.
The king of Isra'el went out and attacked the horses and chariots, inflicting a massive defeat on Aram.
Afterwards, the prophet approached the king of Isra'el and said to him, "Go, regroup your forces, and think carefully what to do, for next year at this time the king of Aram will renew his attack."
Meanwhile, the servants of the king of Aram said to him, "Their God is a God of the hills; that's why they were stronger than we were. But if we fight them on level ground, we will certainly be stronger than they are.
Also do this: remove all the kings from their commands, and put professional officers in their place.
Then recruit an army as big as the army you lost, horse for horse and chariot for chariot. We will attack them on level ground, and we will certainly be stronger than they." He heeded what they said and acted accordingly.
At the same time the following year, Ben-Hadad mustered the army of Aram and went up to Afek to attack Isra'el.
The army of Isra'el, already mobilized and supplied, went to meet them; but the army of Isra'el, encamped opposite them, looked like two herds of goats; while Aram filled the land.
At this point, a man of God approached and said to the king of Isra'el, "Here is what ADONAI says: 'Because Aram said that ADONAI is a God of the hills but not a God of the valleys, I will hand over to you this entire huge army. Then you will know that I am ADONAI.'"
They remained in camp opposite each other for seven days. On the seventh day, the battle began; and the people of Isra'el killed 100,000 soldiers of Aram in a single day.
The rest fled to Afek, into the city; and the wall fell on 27,000 of the men who were left. Ben-Hadad fled into the city and took refuge in an inside room.
His servants said to him, "Here now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Isra'el are merciful kings. If it's all right with you, let's put sackcloth around our waists and ropes on our heads, and go out to the king of Isra'el. Maybe he will spare your life."
So they put sackcloth around their waists and ropes on their heads, went to the king of Isra'el and said, "Your servant Ben-Hadad says, 'Please spare my life.'" And he answered, "He's still alive? He is my brother."
The men took this as a promising indication and seized on it to say, "Yes, Ben-Hadad is your brother." Then Ach'av said, "Go, and bring him here." Ben-Hadad went out to him, and Ach'av had him climb up into his chariot.
Ben-Hadad said to him, "I will return the cities my father took from your father. Also you can set up markets for trade in Dammesek, as my father did in Shomron." "If you put this covenant in writing," said Ach'av, "I will set you free." So he made a covenant with him and set him free.
One of the members of the prophets' guild said to another one, by the word of ADONAI, "Hit me!" But the man refused to hit him.
Then he said to him, "Because you didn't listen to the voice of ADONAI, the moment you leave me, a lion will kill you." No sooner had he left him than a lion found him and killed him.
The prophet went to another man and said, "Hit me!" The man struck him a blow and wounded him.
The prophet left and waited for the king by the road, disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes.
As the king passed by, he called out to the king and said, "Your servant was on his way into the thick of the fighting when someone turned, brought a man to me and said, 'Guard this man! If he is missing, you will pay for his life with yours; or else you will pay sixty-six pounds of silver.'
But while your servant was busy with one thing and another, he disappeared." The king of Isra'el said to him, "So that is your sentence; you have pronounced it on yourself."
Quickly he removed the bandage from his eyes, and the king of Isra'el recognized him as one of the prophets.
Then he said to the king, "Here is what ADONAI says: 'Because you have let escape the man I had given over to be destroyed, you will pay with your life for his life and with your people for his people.'"
The king of Isra'el returned home to Shomron resentful and depressed.